During embryonic development, mouse female germ cells enter meiosis in an anterior-to-posterior wave believed to be driven by retinoic acid. It has been proposed that ovarian follicle formation and activation follow the same general wave of meiotic progression; however, the precise anatomic specification of these processes has not been delineated. Here, we created a mouse line using Mvh, Gdf9, and Zp3 promoters to drive distinct temporal expression of three fluorescent proteins in the oocytes and to identify where the first follicle cohort develops. The fluorescent profile revealed that the first growing follicles consistently appeared in a specific region of the ovary, the anterior-dorsal region, which led us to analyze if meiotic onset occurred earlier in the dorsal ovarian region. Surprisingly, in addition to the anterior-to-posterior wave, we observed an early meiotic entry in the ventral region of the ovary. This additional anatomic stratification of meiosis contrasts with the localization of the initial follicle formation and activation in the dorsal region of the ovary. Therefore, our study suggests that the specification of cortical and medullar areas in the ventral and dorsal regions on the ovary, rather than the onset of meiosis, impacts where the first follicle activation event occurs.
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Vol. 93 • No. 4